14 Exercises To Run Faster: Expert Advice To Increase Your Speed

Who doesn’t want to run faster?

Whether you’re a dedicated distance runner who can be seen logging miles every morning and is always training for some kind of race, or you play basketball, tennis, soccer, or any other type of sport that involves any bit of running, the faster you can run, the better your performance will be.

But, besides training by running more, what are the best exercises to make you run faster? What are the best workouts to get faster?

In this article, we will help give your running a boost with some of the best exercises to run faster.

We will cover: 

  • What Are the Best Workouts to Get Faster?
  • The 6 Best Workouts to Run Faster
  • 8 Exercises To Run Faster

Let’s get started!

A person doing a box jump, one of the many exercises to run faster.

What Are the Best Workouts to Get Faster?

When you first start running or working out, improvements in your speed and endurance are relatively easy to come by.

As long as you’re following a sensible and progressive training plan, you will likely find almost any type of running workout helps you get faster.

However, over time, as you start to get really fit and fast, your sprinting speed or general running pace may begin to level off, and you might feel like you’ve reached a fitness plateau.

If you’re not continually giving your body a new or progressively challenging stimulus by changing or ramping up your training, your progress can stall.

For this reason, when you’re trying to do workouts to run faster, make sure you’re including enough variety in your exercise routine to ensure your body never gets too accustomed to what you’re doing that adaptations taper off.

Someone running on a track.

The 6 Best Workouts to Run Faster

Some of the best workouts to run faster are running-specific workouts. Examples include the following:

#1: Intervals 

Intervals are set distances you run at specific paces as a form of speed work, so they are usually run at race pace, slightly faster, or VO2 max pace, depending on your goals, the race distance you are training for, and the distance of each interval.

For example, you might run an interval workout of 12 x 400 at a goal 5k pace or slightly faster.

#2: Fartlek Runs

A fartlek run involves varying your pace as you run by adding bursts of fast running interspersed into your run without stopping after each “on” interval.

For example, you might do a 4-mile fartlek run where you do 10 x 90-second surges at your 5k pace during the run. 

In between each of these surges, you would resume your normal training pace or slow your pace just a tad.

Someone running a hill sprint.

#3: Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are one of the best workouts to get faster. 

Applicable for distance runners and sprint athletes alike, hill workouts involve sprinting up hills using good form and a quick turnover.

Because you are having to contend with the incline of the hill and gravity, hill sprint workouts are like resistance training and speed training combined into one.

Using a quick cadence and driving with your arms makes hill repeats one of the best exercises to run faster.

#4: Accelerations or Strides

Accelerations or strides involve running 75-100 meters or so, building up from a fast pace to an all-out sprint. 

They allow you to work on your turnover and drive, which helps you run faster.

A person pushing a sled in a gym.

#5: Speed Training With Resistance 

Speed training with resistance is one of the best exercises to run faster.

This type of training involves sprinting with some form of resistance, such as a parachute, weighted sled, or against a resistance band or tethered partner.

Whether you’re doing a sled pull, pulling against the wind resistance of a parachute, being restrained by another runner, or otherwise, when you sprint as fast as possible against resistance, you build up your strength as you build your speed.

Then, when the resistance is removed, it becomes that much easier to sprint, helping you run faster.

#6: Tempo Runs

Tempo runs involve running for at least 20 minutes or so at a pace that’s right around your lactate threshold

Tempo workouts are designed to improve your lactate threshold or the point at which your body is no longer able to clear lactate from the muscles as quickly as it is being produced. 

When you run faster than your lactate threshold pace, you will rapidly fatigue, and your legs will start to feel heavy and tired. 

Therefore, tempo runs help to condition your body to handle running faster before hitting anaerobic efforts.

Your lactate threshold is around 83-88% of your VO2 max, so your tempo run pace would be the pace you are running at 83-88% of your VO2 max according to your lab results or roughly the pace you could hold at max effort for an hour of running. 

This is a “comfortably hard pace.”

For most runners, tempo run pace is about 25-30 seconds per mile slower than 5k race pace. 

For example, if you are training to run 5K in 27 minutes (8:40 pace), your pace for threshold workouts should be around 9:05-9:10 per mile or 5:35-5:38 per kilometer.

A person doing a step-up.

8 Exercises to Run Faster

In addition to running-specific workouts to run faster, you can improve your leg speed and power by performing exercises that strengthen your legs and core.

The following are some of the best exercises to run faster:

#1: Explosive Step-Ups

Step-ups are a fantastic exercise to run faster because they strengthen the key muscles that are involved in running and sprinting, such as your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and core muscles.

Use dumbbells for added resistance, and explode upward on the step-up portion, and slowly step down backward.

The explosive power should come from your glutes, which will help drive your leg forward when you run.

A person doing a split squat.

#2: Bulgarian Split Squats

Rear foot-elevated split squats, or Bulgarian split squats, are a good unilateral strength training exercise for runners.

They’ll strengthen your entire lower body and core.

For maximum effectiveness in terms of using this one of our exercises to run faster, perform the eccentric phase (lowering down) as slowly as possible and then explode back up.

#3: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

This is a great exercise for running faster because it isolates each leg at a time, mimicking the unilateral demands of running.

You’ll strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Instead of performing each rep slowly, reach down slowly with the weight and then explode upward back to the starting position.

This will help develop the power you need to run faster.

A person jumping rope.

#4: On-Box Jumps

Jumping up onto a plyometric box with two feet builds explosive strength that can translate to running faster.

Gradually increase the height of the box you use as you get stronger.

#5: Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is a great way to get in some footwork and increase your cadence.

Jump as low to the ground and as quickly as possible to really improve your turnover.

Keep your core tight and glutes engaged.

#6: Squats 

Few exercises to run faster and get stronger are complete without squats

Like the other exercises here, perform the eccentric phase slowly and then focus on accelerating upwards as fast and powerfully as possible.

A person doing a depth jump.

#7: Depth Jumps

This tough plyometric exercise is great for developing explosive speed for running faster.

Because you start on a raised box rather than the floor, this exercise has a strong eccentric (lowering) muscle action.

Therefore, you get the true stretch-shortening cycle necessary to fully activate the central nervous system. 

This, in turn, increases muscle firing rates and increases the force the muscles can generate.

Start on a plyo box that’s 6-30 inches high, depending on your experience level.

To perform the exercise, step down, one foot at a time, as if you’re sort of falling into the ground, storing energy in your legs.

As soon as both of your feet have landed, jump as high as you can, straight into the air, without pausing or lowering into a preparatory partial squat.

To boost your power and momentum, thrust your arms upward as you jump.

Land softly with your knees bending to absorb the load of your body.

Pause and rest before doing another rep.

Two people laughing at the gym, one holding a medicine ball.

#8: Medicine Ball Burpees

Regular burpees can certainly be useful in your workouts to run faster, but adding a medicine ball takes everything up a notch.

You’ll perform the same basic burpee (squat, down to push-up, then explode up to a vertical jump), but all while holding onto a medicine ball.

The medicine ball makes the squat and vertical jump more challenging because you have added resistance. 

Driving your arms straight overhead while holding the medicine ball helps build power in your glutes, which can help you run faster.

Moreover, you’ll get a killer core workout and will really challenge your upper body with the push-up portion.

Try to do the push-up with your hands on either side or the top of the medicine ball.

By reducing your base of support and placing your hands on an unstable surface, you’ll really have to activate your core.

For each exercise, perform 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Focus on good form, high resistance, and power.

Between the running workouts and the strength exercises, as well as a commitment to keep your training program varied, it should be possible to run faster.

Let us know how your speed training goes!

For a complete list of different types of running workouts to keep your training well-varied, check out our guide here.

A person sprinting.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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